At a glance, it might hard to take Panasonic's new H1 Field too seriously. After all, it looks like you could find one in Toys-R-Us right between the LeapPad and those gimmicky cartoon character notebooks. But upon closer inspection, you'll see this is nothing of the sort.
Panasonic's H1 Field is actually a ruggedized tablet that's part of the company's Toughbook series. The H1 Field can withstand a 6-foot drop, scorching hot or freezing temperatures, and even a bit of water. It even boasts a sunlight-viewable dual-touch LCD designed to recognize both finger and stylus input. Try doing all that with your LeapPad.
Unlike anything else you're likely to find in the toy section, the H1 Field comes equipped with an Intel Atom Z540 processor (1.86GHz), 2GB of RAM, a 64GB reinforced flex-connect SSD, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RFID reader, and other odds and ends.
Panasonic says the H1 Field will start shipping in March with an estimated street price of $3,379.
No, the whole 3D thing didn’t go away after CES. It’s still happening, and Panasonic plans to get in on the ground floor. The Japanese electronics maker will be releasing four 3D Blu-Ray recorders/players to compliment the 3D Viera plasmas they intend to sell. The new units will be available first in Japan this spring.
The DMP-BDT900 is just a player, unlike the rest of Panasonic’s new line up. It comes with 4 HDMI ports, an SD card slot, LAN, USB ports, Viera link, and BD-LIVE. It will be available for $1,500. The 3D Blu-Ray recorders come with hard drives in 2TB, 1TB and 750GB sizes. These devices will have two digital and one analog TV tuner, 2 HDMI ports, LAN, USB port, SD card slot, and Viera Link. The three models will go for $3,350 for the 2TB model, $2,200 for the 1TB unit and $1,800 for the 750GB one.
So if you’re the early adopter type, and you’ll be in Japan this Spring, start saving up now.
It’s chicken-and-egg time again. Right now the question is playing out in 3D television. There’s no content because there’s no TVs; there’s no TVs because there’s no content. Someone has to go first, before the others will follow. Panasonic has decided to be one of those first-goers, announcing it will soon start shipping its first 3D plasma HDTVs.
The VIERA VT2 series was introduced at this year’s CES in Las Vegas. The series is expected to contain four sets ranging from 50-inches to 65-inches. The two available now are the 50-inch TH-P50VT2 and the 54-inch TH-P54VT2. Each has 1080p resolution, and a contrast ratio of 5 million to one. Both digital and analog tuners are built-in, as is a 20W 2.1-channel speaker system. Each set has four HDMI ports, a VGA output, a D4 (component) output, and an Ethernet port. They also feature Panasonic’s VIERA CAST IPTV functionality and are THX certified.
The 3D effect is realized through the use of active shutter glasses, which are included with the set. (No word on how many pairs with each set, or whether other pairs will be available as an option.)
The new sets are due for release in April in Japan. No mention of a release date for the United States. And they won’t come cheap: the 54-inch model is priced about $6,000 (¥530,000), and the 50-inch model about $4,900 (¥430,000).
The new Core i5 and Core i7 mobile CPUs are already finding their way into some products. Panasonic has announced that the Japanese version of the Toughbook laptops, known there as Lets Note, will be getting some speedy new Nehalem-based processors. The new rugged (and a little ugly) offerings will come in four flavors.
The S9, N9, and F9 will have a Core i5-520M CPU. Screen sizes range from 12.1 inches (S9 and F9) up to the 14.1 inch screen on the F9. This screen will probably look quite nice with a resolution of 1440 x 900. The real gem here is the R9 model which will have a Core i7-620M, 250GB HDD, and 2GB of DDR3 RAM crammed into a chassis the size of a netbook. A 10.1 inch screen with that kind of power makes for a desirable ultraportable computer.
A Japanese launch is scheduled for February 17th. No word on if these PCs will find their way here. If you were able to get one of these, what would you pay for it?
Blu-ray has faced down some pretty significant criticisms in its rise to dominance over the past few years, but complaints about its storage capacity was never one of them. Never the less a research partnership between Panasonic and Sony has yielded a new technique which will increase disk capacities from 25GB per layer to 33GB. Normally a small jump like this would have us rolling our eyes when it comes to the prospect of replacing all our hardware, but interestingly enough, it appears as though the jump in capacity can be achieved using the optics in our current players.
The new standard is called i-MLSE which stands for Maximum Likelihood Sequence Estimation, this is a method of estimating the read error rate of disks on the fly. If all goes as planned the only action users will need to take to read the disks would be a firmware update on existing players. There is no timeline for the rollout yet, but Sony is set to propose the adoption of i-MLSE to the Blu-ray Disk Association in the coming months, which as you might imagine, they have a fair bit of sway over.
Green technology is an up-coming wave for the future, and Panasonic intends to be riding that wave when it crests. Panasonic has just announced it will “be the first to bring to the market a storage battery for home use, which can store sufficient electricity for about one week of use.”
Panasonic is building on its recent acquisition of a 50 percent share of Sanyo, which possesses advanced rechargeable battery technology. Through Sanyo, Panasonic intends to produce a lithium-ion power cell that will complement solar and fuel cells (neither of which can store electricity). Panasonic’s objective, it says, is to help us realize a “CO2 emission-free daily life.” Panasonic claims it has already test-manufactured such a battery.
Interestingly, Panasonic’s efforts aren’t targeted toward the eco-friendly markets emerging in the United States and Europe. According to Fumio Otsubo, the president of Panasonic, the battery is intended for “middle-income people in such emerging countries as China and India, which haven't been hit by deflationary pressure.” It would seem that Panasonic no longer views us as a profit-center.
It was just over a year ago that Panasonic first began showing interest in purchasing a controlling stake in its smaller rival Sanyo Electric, and while it may have taken 13 months to pull the trigger, Panasonic proved to be anything but gun shy this week in a deal worth $4.6 billion.
That's how much Panasonic said it will pay to buy a 50.2 percent stake in Sanyo after closing its five-week tender offer that began on November 5. Panasonic, which is the world's largest plasma TV maker, will pay 131 yen, or about $1.48 USD, per Sanyo share.
The deal is considered a win for both sides. For Panasonic, it will now be able to draw upon Sanyo's technical prowess in solar panels and rechargeable batteries. And for Sanyo, the takeover comes at a time when the company has been struggling financially.
Panasonic said it will most likely retain the Sanyo brand and keep its shares listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, BusinessWeek reports.
Panasonic earlier in the week said it had begun a tender offer to take over rival Sanyo for an estimated $4.4 billion, which would create one of the world's largest electronics companies. But before that can happen, China is forcing Panasonic to sell off assets in Japan if its to approve the deal, the Financial Times reports.
The landmark ruling, which is based on anti-trust laws introduced in August of last year, has some concerned over the growing power of Beijing's competition authorities. Those who study competition law say the Chinese demands go further than those of the European Union and make international companies take greater notice of China when considering acquisitions.
Should the deal go through, Sanyo is expected to become Panasonic's subsidiary by mid-December, or a year after the two companies first announced the potential takeover.
We've seen some third-party USB makers toy with adding movies to USB sticks -- PNY being the first by adding Ghostbusters to a 2GB USB thumb drive -- and now Disney is looking to do the same thing, only with microSD cards.
According to news site TGDaily, Panasonic and Disney have inked a deal to distribute Disney movies on microSD cards, the first of which will be the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy this November. Looking longer term, Disney plans to release future titles on DVD and microSD at the same time.
Buyers will be able to view the movies on car navigation systems, mobile phones, and other portable media players with a microSD card slot, as well as some existing Panasonic TV sets that come with card readers already built in.
There are a couple of caveats, however. First, the card/movie bundles will only be available in Japan, at least initially. And secondly, the $53 price tag and included copy protection may scare off some potential customers.
Last month, Asus shipped its first ever Eee PC netbook to integrate a Super-Multi optical disc drive, a trend which still hasn't caught on full-force. The Eee PC notwithstanding, if you must have a DVD drive with your optical-less netbook, one solution is to buy an external drive, but Century may have a better idea. The company plans to release a netbook stand with a built-in Panasonic DVD drive.
The stand/DVD drive measures 260 x 190 x 19mm and weighs 52g. It supports DVD±R/+RW (8x), DVD±R DL/-RW (6x), DVD-RAM (5x) and CD-R/-RW (24x), and comes with two USB 2.0 ports for good measure. Also included is a small 4cm cooling fan. And according to a rough translation of Century's product page, the stand also looks to incorporate a 2.5-inch bay for a SATA-based HDD or SDD.
Century's multi-functional stand will be available in Japan starting this Friday for $100, CrunchGear reports.